High Court docket a blockbuster

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It’s a new year and a new Justice for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), which began its new term last week. Their 43-case docket includes some blockbusters — civil rights vs. religion; cellphone privacy; presidential power and travel bans; redistricting; and free speech.

Here are a few highlights:

Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project, and Trump v. Hawaii. While the 90-day ban on people from certain majority-Muslim countries was reinstated, legal questions remain. Do the so-called bans violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (prohibiting religious discrimination)? Are they too broad in scope?

Another case concerning U.S. entries, Jennings v. Rodriguez, questions lengthy detentions (e.g., six months) without bond hearings.

Gill v. Whitford. This case challenges Wisconsin’s allegedly partisan gerrymandering — the redrawing of legislative districts along political lines to influence voting results. What SCOTUS decides could affect up to a third of American districts redrawn in the last 50 years.

Carpenter v. U.S. Is your mobile phone use private? Police used a robber’s cellphone records over 127 days, without a warrant, to track him. Whether this violates the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protections is the issue, but cellphone privacy advocates are watching this one too.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Weddings don’t often make judicial history, but when a Colorado baker refused on religious grounds to make a cake for a same-sex couple, two areas of civil rights came into direct conflict. Colorado law prohibits businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

Three consolidated cases on arbitration. Already heard Oct. 2, these cases address the legality and

constitutionality of requiring employee consent to arbitration (deciding disputes outside of court), and prohibiting employee participation in class action suits. Millions of employees are required to sign such “agreements,” which favor employers, as a condition of employment. Federal laws addressing labor relations, collective bargaining, and arbitration processes are potentially impacted.

For a full list of cases on the Supreme Court’s docket, Scotusblog.com/case-files/terms/ot2017/.

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Sholeh Patrick, J.D. is a columnist with the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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